He stands at the center of the stage. Everyone’s eyes are on him while he plays to his heart’s content. Beads of sweat drip from his brow to the strings of his violin. The music crescendos, deafening the otherwise hushed atmosphere of the audience. Then, it slowly fades away, his piece drawing to a close. Applause soon follows, as the entire theatre stands up in unanimous ovation. Taking a humble bow, he feels accomplished, but still hungers for more. While the night’s performance was finished, he knows his journey is far from over.
A violin prodigy
Nimrod Villamorza has been working as a freelance violinist for the past six years now. A native of Bacolod City, he has been taking gigs from different people all around the country. Nimrod has had the opportunity to perform at various celebrations and functions, such as weddings, corporate events, and festivals. “I do travel [a lot],” Nimrod adds. “Usually the Visayas region, [in places] like Boracay, Iloilo, Dumaguete, and Cebu.” Aside from the luxury of travel, Nimrod has also experienced the privilege of performing for some fairly notable Filipino celebrities, including Francis Libiran, Ehra Madrigal, and even Bang Garcia.
From small beginnings
Nimrod’s immense success did not come overnight and was, in truth, built from the ground up. “My sister convinced me to learn the instrument [when] I was in high school. I decided to give it a try. I wasn’t expecting to make a career out of it,” Nimrod reminisces. “I don’t know if I had the passion for it [at that time]. I started March of 2006. By September I wanted out. It’s a really difficult instrument. Exercises and etudes were tough for me.”
After his first recital was when it all really began. The warm applause Nimrod received from the audience had sparked something within him. His once soulless desire was now imbued with a fiery passion, turning into a desire to better himself, a desire to master the violin. The painstaking effort he had exerted into mastering a beautiful, yet difficult piece was met with awe and admiration from complete strangers. Nimrod’s first performance had transformed him, molded him into the violinist he is today.
Every single day after his first recital, Nimrod would practice for at least five hours before going to bed. This didn’t pose a problem during his high school days, since his afterschool schedule was pretty flexible at that time. Unfortunately, upon reaching his college years, Nimrod found it increasingly difficult to balance both his academics and his violin practices, due to the heavy workload he was now facing. “Literally, [I would practice] everyday, from 10 pm till 1 am or 3 am. I usually would end up coming in late for class the next day,” Nimrod claims.
He found himself in a conundrum, unable to find a way to manage both his priorities and his passion. He couldn’t possibly spend the rest of his college life constantly sleep-deprived. He needed sleep in order to function, but at the same time wanted to allot time for his violin practices. He wanted to better himself as a musician, but also wanted to make his parents happy through his studies. So, faced with an ultimatum, he decided to take a risk. During his 3rd year of college, Nimrod dropped out.
Afraid to confront his mom and dad about the life-changing decision, Nimrod kept the fact hidden from them for quite a while. Unfortunately, parents’ intuition is a powerful thing, and eventually, they were able to put two and two together and figured things out. “It wasn’t really a secret, I [just] didn’t open up to them when I [should’ve]. They just noticed that I wasn’t wearing my uniform anymore and [eventually], they found out that I [wasn’t] at school,” Nimrod narrates. His parents almost cut ties with him, barely speaking to him for about a month as punishment for his secrecy.
Success does not come easy
Back when he was in college, Nimrod found difficulty in balancing both his passion and his academics. He was stuck studying for a course he never wanted to take in the first place. “I took up Electronics Engineering. [It was my] parents’ choice,” Nimrod begrudgingly says. He even states that his disinterest for the course was one major factor as to why he decided to pursue a career in music in the first place.
Nimrod’s decision to drop out of college did not come without repercussions, but he managed to get by just fine. He became part of a Talents Pool Agency in Bacolod for about two years before he joined a citywide movement that advocated for more recognition and rewards for independent artists. He then subsequently left the agency in pursuit of an independent music career.
“When I left, I didn’t get any bookings for a couple of month,” Nimrod claims. “So I reached out to events coordinators and wedding planners, marketing myself as a freelance musician. I think they liked my music, so I started getting more bookings for their events.” The more bookings and gigs Nimrod performed at, the more his reputation grew, leading to his eventual success.
If we could turn back time
Despite the success and reputation that he’s garnered in his career, Nimrod regrets not being able to accomplish some of the things he’s wanted to do. For one, he had originally planned on joining an orchestra, which actually required him to enroll in a Conservatory for Music, so that he could formally graduate with credentials.
“A Conservatory for Music is an institution where the school focuses on honing the musical abilities of a person; both technical, as in music theory, and practical, as in skills and playing,” Nimrod explains. “Orchestras would usually check your credentials aside from [your] skills. So I decided to take the solo path and market myself as a solo violinist for weddings and corporate events.”
Follow your passion, and success will follow you
An ardent advocate for following one’s passion, Nimrod would want to encourage aspiring artists out there to pursue whatever it is that makes them happy and fulfilled. “Pursue your passion, but at the same time, make sure that you take slow and careful steps in your journey,” he advises. “I was very lucky and blessed to get this far in life, but my career wouldn’t be successful without hard work.”
Now, Nimrod wants to share his wisdom and experiences with those who are unsure of what they want to pursue, those who are scared to follow their passions. He even plans on opening a school in the near future, as an avenue for him to not only provide technical lessons to his students, but to also inspire them, and give them the courage to pursue what they love.
Passionate in his craft, Nimrod had the drive to continuously better himself as a musician, and as a result, he was able to garner a renowned reputation, which eventually led to his imminent success. Nimrod firmly believes that following your passion is not enough in order to succeed; hard work and effort are equally as vital in making one’s dreams a reality.